Decolonizing time:
Time at the interface of religion and science

C. K. Raju

Centre for Studies in Civilizations, New Delhi


Colonialism captured the mind, by sustained indoctrination through Western education—for centuries a church monopoly. It gave three time-gifts to the colonised, all deeply influenced by church politics.

First, the religious Gregorian calendar, an unscientific method of timekeeping which spreads the ADBC superstition, while ruining Indian farmers even today. Second, the clock, a symbol used on church steeples to depict the immediacy of apocalypse. Ironically, both calendar and clock provide robust, non-textual evidence against the fictitious history of science used by Macaulay to impose colonial education.

The third time gift was the clockwork cosmos in the name of science. Aquinas said that god rules the world with laws of nature, which supposed laws were later formulated as differential equations. Because neither Newton nor Leibniz understood the calculus, imported from India, the very formulation of those differential equations today assumes formal real numbers, that time is like a line. Newtonian physics failed just because he similarly made time metaphysical.

Calculus must be understood using zeroism, not formalism. This permits the reformulation of science by a partial return to the notion of quasi-cyclic time. “Cyclic” time was cursed by the post-Nicene church, by confounding quasi-cyclic with supercyclic time, as did Nietzsche. However, quasi cyclic time permits a cosmos with creativity and spontaneity, without which art cannot exist. This also restores the original notion of soul as a scientific possibility.